Abbey Theatre Announces 2018 Programme

Hot Press has learnt that our national theatre will stage 26 projects in 2018, including ten world premieres, along with a new community-led initiative for developing work.

With 37 productions, over 120,000 audience members, and 16 counties visited, the first year for Directors of the Abbey Theatre Graham McLaren and Neil Murray is coming to an end.

"We’re delighted to bring ten world premieres of Abbey Theatre productions, co-productions and co-commissions to the stage this year," the said in a joint statement.

"Collaboration was a key part of our programming model in 2017 and we want that to continue. As Ireland’s national theatre, we have a responsibility to support artists – we want the Abbey to be a resource for the theatre community."

Margaret Perry’s 'Porcelain' will be the first world premiere of 2018. This play came in through the Abbey Theatre’s Scripts and Ideas year round open call. Opening in February, Porcelain weaves past and present, myth and fact to explore the parallel stories of two Irishwomen.

'The Unmanageable Sisters' is Deirdre Kinahan’s new version of Michel Tremblay’s feted Québécois comedy, Les Belles Soeurs. Green Shield Stamps, a million of them, and Ger Lawless has won them all. It’s Ballymun in 1973 and Ger’s got friends around to celebrate. Over the course of one night, the lives of 15 women collide.

Marina Carr’s explosive, but rarely staged 'On Raftery’s Hil'l (2000) pushes family bonds to the limits. Red Raftery is a powerful man, used to getting what he wants. He owns 300 acres of the finest land this side of the Shannon and west of the Pale. He lives on his farm with three generations of his family. But there is something rotten on Raftery’s hill.

In an ANU and Abbey Theatre co-production, 'The Lost O’Casey', a lost play is reframed as a searing call to action. Nannies Night Out, Sean O’Casey’s 1924 play for the Abbey Theatre had multiple endings “the ending I wanted, the ending they wanted and the compromise.”

Audiences are invited to jump start this thrilling project and tumble through the private recesses of the theatre to ‘experience’ the play which explores motherhood and addiction.

'Come On Home' is new play about faith, family, place and desire from Phillip McMahon – the writer of 'Alice in Funderland', 'Town is Dead' and the co-creator of 'RIOT'. Having been kicked out of the seminary and exiled from his family home, Michael hasn't been back in almost twenty years. But now, the death of his mother sees him return to the small town where he grew up. An Irish funeral brings out the best and worst in people, and a long night of truths lies ahead.

'The Patient Gloria' – a Gina Moxley and Abbey Theatre co-production, in association with Pan Pan – is a timely meditation on female desire in a new political context where misogyny is the winning ticket.

Gloria’s discomfort with her own sexual desire, her trying to be good but wanting to be bad, became central to the 1965 films Three Approaches to Psychotherapy, also known as The Gloria Films. The films were intended for academic purposes but given a cinema and TV release, betraying the privacy of the patient Gloria.

Deirdre Kinahan’s 'Rathmines Road' is a fraught, funny and ferocious new play that challenges our cultural response to sexual assault. Fishamble: The New Play Company collaborates with the Abbey Theatre on this powerful and questioning drama. Rathmines Roadunleashes a brutal truth that affects us all. Bristling with tension, the play asks the question: when and how do we take responsibility?

Thomas Kilroy’s 'Double Cross' creatively pitches two real-life Irishmen against each other in World War II's propaganda battle. Brendan Bracken the British Minister for Information, and Nazi broadcaster William Joyce, better known as Lord Haw-Haw.

Originally performed in 1986 by the Field Day Theatre Company, 'Double Cross' now takes on a new relevance in an era of heightened nationalism and 'fake news'. An Abbey Theatre and Lyric Theatre, Belfast co-production.

'Asking For It' is a new stage adaptation of Louise O’Neill’s devastating novel, which shines an unflinching light on the experience of a young woman whose life is changed forever by a horrific act of violence.

Adapted by Meadhbh McHugh in collaboration with Annabelle Comyn, who also directs, the play will have its world premiere in Cork in June 2018, ahead of a run on the Abbey Stage in November.

This much anticipated production is produced by Landmark Productions and the Everyman co-commissioned by the Abbey Theatre, and in association with the Abbey Theatre and Cork Midsummer Festival.

"It is a source of great pride that three projects, supported as part of our works-in-development in 2017, will be going to full production on the Abbey and Peacock Stages and offsite next year," The Abbey directors said in a joint statement

"It’s important that we strike a balance between presenting, producing and developing new work. With that in mind, we also launched 5 x 5 this month – a new programme for developing work and artists over 5 weeks in 2018."

Trailblazing dancer and choreographer Oona Doherty, in collaboration with renowned DJ and composer David Holmes and designer Ciaran Bagnall, presents 'Hard to Be Soft – A Belfast Prayer'.

A reflection on their hometown, exploring masculinity, sectarianism, culture, class and sexuality, this physical prayer is a celebration of all that we have and an invocation for all that we are missing. 'Hard to Be Soft' was co-commissioned by Dublin Dance Festival, the Abbey Theatre Dublin, Prime Cut Productions and Belfast International Arts Festival.

Theatre Lovett’s 'FRNKSTN' by Michael West is a mutation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This daring, modern adaptation of a classic re-imagines Victor Frankenstein as a gene-splicing molecular biologist who creates human life from his own DNA with catastrophic results.

It's being described as a "modern ghost story and psychological thriller, this version of Frankenstein aims to chill us with the darkness we hold within our DNA — and our hearts".

With the referendum to Repeal the Eighth Amendment on the horizon, a national conversation about reproductive rights has begun. In a deeply personal and bravely funny testimony, actor, comedian and activist Tara Flynn shares her account of having to travel out of Ireland for an abortion.

With searing honesty, 'Not a Funny Word' examines the status quo through one woman’s own journey. With songs. THISISPOPBABY and the Abbey Theatre present Not A Funny Word at The Complex, as part of THISISPOBBABY and St. Patrick’s Festival’s Where We Live programme in March.

From the team behind the hit political plays, 'Guaranteed!, Bailed Out!' and 'Inside the GPO' comes a new script-in-hand presentation about another seminal moment in Irish political history – the Gregory Deal. Written by Colin Murphy and presented by Fishamble: The New Play Company, Haughey/Gregory will have three staged readings in February.

5 x 5 is a new Abbey Theatre initiative, inviting underrepresented communities to submit an idea or project they want to develop. The call for applications is now open at 5 applicants will be selected and provided with 5 days’ worth of space, technical assistance and €5,000 to explore their project throughout the year.

"Like 2017, some recent Irish theatre hits are back by popular demand next year. You can catch these sold out shows if you missed them (and see them again if you loved them, like we did). We are thrilled to announce a new partnership with The Gaiety with a two week run of The Plough and the Stars," the Abbey directors stated.

Seen by over 50,000 people in 2016, Sean Holmes’ refreshed, high-energy restaging of 'The Plough and the Stars' opens in the Lyric Hammersmith in London in March, before returning to Dublin for a run at the Gaiety Theatre. Set amidst the tumult of the Easter Rising, Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars is the story of ordinary lives ripped apart by the idealism of the time.

From the imagination of one of Ireland’s foremost dance and theatre-makers, Michael Keegan-Dolan, comes a magical adaptation of one of the most famous stories, Swan Lake.

Swan Lake/Loch na hEala was the Best Production Winner at the Irish Times Theatre Awards 2016. With beautiful dancing and powerful imagery, this interpretation of Swan Lake is rooted in the Midlands of Ireland in a place where ancient mythology and the modern world collide.

Following a sell-out run at the Dublin Theatre Festival, Iseult Golden and David Horan explore the complications and comedy when three adults find themselves back in class. A parent-teacher meeting goes very, very wrong in CLASS – a new play about learning difficulties: in school, in life, wherever.

It was a must see show of last summer, now 'Jimmy’s Hall' is back and bursting with music, dance, poetry and song. It tells the true story of Leitrim farmer James Gralton, the only Irishman deported from his own country for his political beliefs.

Following last year’s sell-out run, the bawdy, vibrant pandemonium of James Joyce’s Ulysses returns to a transformed, cabaret-style Abbey Theatre auditorium – just in time for Bloom’s Day 2018.

After sold-out shows for the past six years, The 24 Hour Plays: Dublin is back for one night only with all proceeds going to Dublin Youth Theatre. Six short plays will be written, rehearsed and presented all within 24 hours by the best of Irish writing and directing talent and over two dozen of Ireland’s most recognised and beloved stars of stage and screen.

"We want the Abbey to embrace all art forms. As well as immersive work, dance and a play with songs, there will be a week of music on the Abbey Stage, a fusion of art, performance and music from Gare St Lazare, opera and flamenco," the two directors stated.

While Aiken Promotions in partnership with Dublin City Council present 'MusicTown' – the festival that celebrates the rich music heritage of Dublin comes to the Abbey Theatre for the first time in 2017.

'Here All Night' is a hypnotic journey into the musical mind of Samuel Beckett by master interpreters, Gare St Lazare Ireland - ‘The Unparalleled Beckett Champions’ (New York Times). Conceived and created by Judy Hegarty Lovett, Conor Lovett, Paul Clark and Caoimhín Ó’Raghallaigh.

Ground-breaking star of the flamenco world, the astonishing Patricia Guerrero will take to the Abbey Stage to present her celebrated show Catedral. Four female dancers, three musicians, two opera singers and one flamenco singer create an explosive interplay of dance and live music, transforming the stage into a sacred, spiritually charged space in partnership with Dublin Dance Festival.

Open Studio is an invitation to join a conversation about connecting to younger audiences and participants through dance, performance and live art. It brings together a diverse range of perspectives and methodologies across four days of workshops, seminars and scratch events, which will be hosted by Dublin Dance Festival, Live Collision and the Abbey Theatre.

The Royal Irish Academy of Music in collaboration with The Lir National Academy of Dramatic Art at Trinity College Dublin and in association with the Abbey Theatre present Opera Briefs in 2018. Opera Briefs is an introduction to the next generation of singers and stage technicians in a double bill of operas by Judith Weir and Claudio Monteverdi.

The Abbey directors added: "One of the big successes of 2017 was our Free First Previews. It was a gamble, but a favourite moment of 2017 was seeing that first queue. We’ve decided to extend the initiative to cover Peacock shows too. We will have double the amount of Free Previews in our 2018 programme – if you are up for queueing you will be able to see 12 of our shows for free."

Through a series of Free First Previews, the Abbey Theatre gives away thousands of free tickets, attempting to remove any economic barriers and ensuring the national theatre is open to all. Only available on the night, tickets cannot be booked in advance and are distributed on a first come, first served basis to people who queue.

"We are excited by the energy created by our first year of programming and our desire to create a national theatre that is also a resource for the nation’s theatre makers," the Abbey directors said,

"We’re looking forward to working with ANU, Gare St Lazare, Gina Moxley, Iseult Golden and David Horan, Louise O’Neill and Meadhbh McHugh, Margaret Perry, MusicTown, Teac Damsa, The Everyman, The Gaiety for the first time in 2018, and to welcoming back Annabelle Comyn, Caitríona McLaughlin, Dublin Dance Festival, Fishamble, Landmark Productions, Lyric Hammersmith, Lyric Belfast, Marina Carr, Oona Doherty, Phillip McMahon, Tara Flynn, The Lir, Theatre Lovett and THISISPOPBABY. We will have more to announce early next year!"

A further announcement will be made in 2018 with the touring programme for the year, as well as updates on Abbey Theatre collaborations with Dublin Fringe and Dublin Theatre Festival, and more productions for the Abbey and Peacock Stages.

The 2018 programme goes on sale to members today and to the general public at 9.30am on Friday 1 December. More details on the programme can be viewed on and a trailer can be viewed here. //ENDS

Here's the full 2018 Listings:

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN Until 6 January

5 X 5 15 - 20 January

CLASS 24 January – 3 February


HAUGHEY | GREGORY 8 - 10 February

SWAN LAKE / LOCH NA HEALA 8 - 17 February

PORCELAIN 16 February - 10 March

NOT A FUNNY WORD 6 – 10 March (The Complex)


THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS 15 March – 7 April (Lyric Hammersmith)

OPERA BRIEFS 27 - 29 March

5 X 5 3 - 14 April

HERE ALL NIGHT 11 - 14 April

MUSICTOWN 17 - 21 April

OPEN STUDIO 20 - 21 April

THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS 15 March – 7 April (The Gaiety Theatre)

ON RAFTERY’S HILL 27 April - 12 May

CATEDRAL 15 - 16 May


5 X 5 21 May - 1 June

ULYSSES 11 June - 21 July


COME ON HOME 13 July - 4 August

JIMMY’S HALL 26 July - 8 September

FRNKNSTN 17 August - 1 September


DUBLIN THEATRE FESTIVAL 27 September - 14 October

THE PATIENT GLORIA 28 September - 6 October

RATHMINES ROAD 9 - 27 October

DOUBLE CROSS 31 October - 10 November

ASKING FOR IT 7 - 24 November


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